Auto Paint Repair

Car Painting for Dummies: A How To Guide


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A car painting job is easy enough as long as you know a few tricks of the trade that will guide you through the process. This guide is to help you do your own car painting with the assumption that all dents or auto body repair has been done.

Tools and Materials:

  • Spray gun
  • Auto color paint
  • Soap and water
  • Wax/grease remover
  • Paper towels/cloth
  • Masking tape/newspaper
  • 320 grit wet/dry sandpaper
  • 1200 finer grit wet sandpaper/polisher
  • Rubbing compound

Step 1 - Clean Your Car

The first step in any car painting job is to clean the vehicle thoroughly. Soap and water will do just fine. Rid your car of any dirt, dust, road salts and other particles that you may not see.

Step 2 - Remove Any Grease or Wax

To help the auto paint to stick, remove any wax or grease off the car. Use a wax/grease remover to do this. The remover will also help get rid of any wax-based dirt on your car. Use a paper towel or cloth to completely wipe off the remover.

Step 3 - Remove the Trims

Remove any plastic or chrome trims. Most of these can easily be removed by just snapping them off. If it is a little bit hard to remove, do not force it. There are some tools available that can help you remove the trim if this happens.

Step 4 - Sanding (Preparation)

Start sanding the car. How far you need to sand depends entirely on you. You can sand the car until you see the bare metal or you can sand the car up until the original primer.

Step 5 - Mask the Vehicle

Masking is one of the most important steps in car painting. Although this step is probably the most time-consuming and menial part of the job, it can make or break the overall look of your car. Masking your car will essentially cover any parts of the frame that you do not want painted.

Use the masking tape and newspaper as cover. Often you'll need to mask the windshield, window trims, grills, mirrors and door handles. Don't forget to place an overhang or apron at the bottom of the frame. This is to ensure that the bottom of the car will not be painted as well.

Step 6 - Prime the Car

Apply the corrosion resistant, self-etching primer. This will fill in any scratched areas or pits in the frame. Give the primer time to cure. Curing time depends on each product, so check the container to be sure. There are also some primers that require another coat.

Step 7 - Sanding (for Painting)

Sand all the surfaces that have been primed by using a 320 wet/dry sandpaper. Do not sand so much that the base metal will appear. This sanding will smooth out any paint runs or drips.

Step 8 - Spray Painting the car

The auto paint should be prepared according to the manufacturer's instructions. When you spray the paint, make sure you press the trigger away from the area to be painted, through the surface and again on the other side away from the area. This is to prevent any drips or puddling on a specific area. Allow the paint to fully cure before polishing.

Step 9 - Polishing

After the paint has dried, use a 1200 finer grit wet sandpaper to sand the coat of paint until smooth. Apply a clear coat (optional) for a higher gloss look. Once dried, apply a rubbing compound and use a polisher to buff the car body until well polished.

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